Michigan State University 911 calls: Students smashed windows to escape gunfire
The Ingham County Central Dispatcher released some 911 call recordings of the mass shooting at Michigan State University. Calls indicate the shooter shot people in more than one Berkey Hall classroom. The dispatcher encouraged the students to climb out the windows, barricade themselves, and tend to the injured.
Editor’s Note: This account contains disturbing and graphic accounts of a mass shooting.
LANSING — Shortly after shots were fired at Michigan State University’s Berkey Hall, students and faculty hid in corners and barricaded doors in a bid to stay safe, according to calls to 911 published on Friday.
The audio files, responding to recording requests filed by Bridge Michigan and The Detroit News, offer a first-hand account of moments from the Feb. 13 shooting at MSU and help clarify a timeline of horror on campus.
Ingham County Central Dispatch released the first 10 calls. Callers said students were shot in two classrooms and struggled to escape gunfire that left three dead and five seriously injured.
One caller told dispatchers “they’re breaking windows” in an attempt to escape Berkey Hall, while another woman said students tied down a door and piled tables in front of a door.
The caller told a dispatcher there were six open windows but “honestly, I don’t know if our bodies can get through them.”
“Stay away from the window, unless you can get out,” the dispatcher told him.
The calls were not time-stamped and all came from Berkey Hall, but conversations indicate the first calls came in at 8:18 p.m.
Four calls say students were shot in Room 114, where Michigan State University assistant professor Marco Díaz-Muñoz taught a course in Cuban cultural studies, and that filming is set to begin.
The volume of calls and repeated questions from dispatchers to students asking them to confirm they were inside Berkey Hall, raise new questions as to why university officials waited 12-13 minutes to send an alert to MSU warning of the mass shooting.
The shooter first opened fire inside Berkey Hall at 8:18 p.m. and left the building before police arrived at 8:20 p.m., according to MSU police. He then entered the MSU Union building around 8:24 p.m., according to surveillance footage of the gunman entering the building released by police this month. That’s where he killed 20-year-old Brian Fraser of Grosse Pointe Park.
The shooter left the union at 8:26 p.m. Four minutes later, the first danger alert was issued by the police.
Police have been inconsistent in explaining the delay, initially saying each officer rushed to Berkey Hall, forcing an off-duty officer to send the alert from his home computer. They then explained that a “front desk employee” sent the alert, but waited to get confirmation of the request from a supervisor.
Tapes released Friday indicate callers were told early in the crisis that a heavy police presence was descending on Berkey.
“Everyone comes to help you,” said a dispatcher.
“There are several officers there now,” another dispatcher told a caller moments after the shooting.
A woman told a dispatcher that her class in room 114 had been “shot” and that she was with her friend who had been shot. She “looked down immediately” after the shots and wasn’t sure how many people had been shot, she said.
“He’s not breathing,” the woman told the dispatcher several times, referring to her friend.
Two callers said they were in room 135, with one saying there had been ‘several shots’ and she believed more than one person had been shot in her class.
Several dispatchers told callers to barricade their classroom doors because callers told them there had been a shooting on the Berkey Hall campus.
Two dispatchers asked if callers could escape through windows or run to another building.
A man who made the call from inside room 114 said some people were trying to escape by “breaking the windows”. He told the dispatcher that the doors were closed.
A caller in room 103 told the 911 dispatcher there were five people in her room and she heard “maybe 10” shots fired inside Berkey Hall.
Hearing the gunshots, she said she ran to the corner of the room with her teacher. People in the room were to “tie up” the door and stack tables in front of the door, she told the dispatcher, her voice shaking.
The teachers told Bridge and the Lansing State Journal that they had no way of locking the doors from inside their classrooms.
The university plans to add locks to 1,300 classrooms by fall. Bridge reported that teachers raised concerns about door locks five months before the shooting.
At the time, then-Police Chief Marlon Lynch told the faculty that the university had the ability to lock the doors remotely if there was an active shooter.
The university will also make violent intruder training mandatory in the fall for faculty, students and staff. Bridge found that an average of 842 people per year attended “Run, Hide, Fight” training sessions between 2019 and 2022.
Bridge reporter Mike Wilkinson contributed